1. “Anxiety” by Goldfinger
Admittedly this is not a stand-out song for the L.A. pop-punk quartet. It was a rather standard track on their 1996 self-titled album, and one that gets lost in the middle of the record. But the song has as an interesting topic: the fear of death. John Feldman sings to a person who is experiencing anxiety over the thought of their “time” coming. There’s a line at the beginning of the song that gives veiled reference to God: you’ve been praying about it, you’ve asked him to remove your fear right now. The song goes on to assert that we can’t worry about the end. If we’re not yet dead then it’s not our time, so we can feel our anxiety and “know that this will pass.” Those words too echo a Biblical idea of our “momentary affliction” in this world (2 Cor. 4:17). On the one hand the words direct listeners to perhaps cry out to God, trust Him, and move on. On the other hand, Goldfinger has never represented Christian values, not even remotely! So, the reference is peculiar and for all these years has stuck with me. This week, it was a fun song to reflect on and remind myself of the uncertainty of life without God.
2. “Shepherd” by John Tibbs (Feat. Sandra McCracken)
What if Tom Petty wrote worship music? That’s how I feel when I listen to John Tibbs. His unique blend of heartland rock and worship themes make this a true piece of authentic craftsmanship. This particular track, featuring the inimitable Sandra McCracken, is a from Tibbs’ newest and first independent album, aptly named, Heartland. The song is a beautiful mediation on Psalm 23 and encourages listeners to celebrate our great Shepherd who leads us in love.
3. “We Fight” by Dashboard Confessional
I used to listen to DC regularly in college, but the fact that they are putting out a new album this year is crazy! It’s been nearly ten years since Chris Carrabba released an album with DC, but the two singles I’ve heard from it already are solid representations of what made them such a great band. This song is anthematic, inviting you to shout along with Carrabba as he says,:
“we never learned to keep our voices down. No, we only learned to shout. So we fight our way in, And we fight our way out.”
The song is a true hagiography of great heroes. It sings of those who wouldn’t be held down, wouldn’t give up. Carrabba sings of the kids who had to grow up too fast, but whose hard life produced the kind of hard work that resulted in real reward. It’s a song that champions the underdog!
4. “Therapy” by Relient K
Matt Thiessen apparently spent 3 months secluded somewhere in Tennessee in order to write this album. Forget and Not Slow Down (2009) was strongly influenced by Thiessen’s break up with his then fiancé in 2008. This song in particular expresses the ways in which he processed their separation and his longing to reconnect despite her unwillingness to hear from him. She won’t take his calls, which makes “God the only one who’s listening.” Thiessen sings about driving and listening to music as a means of “therapy,” a way to grieve and process, but the song itself is very literally part of the cathartic experience. As a result it can become a form of “therapy” for many of Relient K’s fans as well. I love the layers of that dynamic. Songs are often a form of therapy for me and this song is very obviously pointing to that role of quality compositions.
5. “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” by The Ramones
You can tell what kind of mood I was in this week. Punk rock has dominated this playlist (3 out of 5 songs), but this is a classic punk song. Released in 1977 it was the first song to mention “punk rock “explicitly as a subculture. The song is arguably one of the Ramones most popular songs and demonstrates the early influences of surf rock and bubble gum pop on songwriter Joey Ramone. The song’s main referent, Sheena, was a jungle girl from a comic book. The jungle girl’s love for punk suggested that punk rock appealed to the savage inside all of us civilized people. The song is lyrically redundant and simple, but it is pure fun. A true classic tribute to punk rock and punk culture, and a good fit for this punk-dominated week.